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To Group Tour or Not to Group Tour?

Updated: 4 days ago


group tour

I recommend small group day trips when you are traveling and planning your own trip. A group tour is a great way to learn more about the place you are visiting from a local or get to a site outside the city. It is also nice to have someone else deal with logistics for a day. There are so many things to figure out when you are traveling--language differences/how to communicate, how to get around, directions, and where to go. I like working in a day trip or two where I get a break from that. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy that part of travel, but it does take energy. More important than that break, though, is that I have really enjoyed meeting the local guides. I have also met other travelers on a day trip who seem like-minded and genuinely interested in learning more about the country and culture they have come to. I have used Viator, Get Your Guide, Trip Advisor, and Airbnb Experiences to book day trips.


My first full group tour trip was to Cuba. There was not an option for American citizens to visit the country any other way at the time I went. I signed up through Intrepid Travel. Our tour guide was AMAZING! His name is Yanet. Go to Cuba with him! Along the way, we connected with other local guides at different stops. It is lovely to see people taking joy in sharing with us. It is their job, of course, but it seems pretty genuine.


Morocco was my second full group trip with EXPLORE! We had a good guide for this trip as well. The benefit was that everything was planned and all the logistics were handled. We covered a large area of each country on both of these trips. We had an expert with us who loves sharing their country. One thing I will ask, in light of that, is not to compare their home, which they view as special, to other places you have visited in front of the guide. I felt like it deflated our guide on this trip. Just be where you are and take it in.


I feel like I can travel more cheaply on my own and have a great experience in the country I am visiting, but I have not done the math on if I tried to cover the number of places and things that group tours do. That being said, some days feel like too much--too many stops and sites and/or too much riding on the bus. When you are on a group tour, your schedule is not your own. There was little downtime or free exploration time on these tours.


There are pros and cons for sure!

PROS:

  • someone else to deal with planning and logistics

  • meet new people (maybe you go visit them where they live when you get back)

  • see a larger area and special places you would not normally see

  • an expert guide for the duration

  • cost?

CONS:

  • you love planning trips and figuring out your way around or just discovering as you wander

  • meet new people who are difficult to be around (this happens)

  • lack of flexibility in your schedule and minimal rest/downtime

  • cost?

I think group tours can be a good choice. It was not in my budget or of interest to me when I was younger, though there was a wide variety of ages on the Cuba tour. There are group tours geared to certain age groups, so there are options to travel with and meet people your age. (They could be great, and they could still be annoying. Age doesn't determine that. Haha!)


TAKE THE GROUP TOUR:

If it's your only option to visit a place you want to go, like Cuba.

If you have no interest in traveling alone but do not have anyone to go with you when you want to go.

If you want to see more of a country than just one area/city.

If you have a large group and do not want to end up in charge of everything. (Yanet said he could do a family tour, so you could have a guided tour for just your family.)

If you are always in charge and want your travels to be a break from that.


Choosing a group tour is situational and based on preference. At the least, you can get some good itinerary ideas if you explore what the group tours have to offer. I still lean toward going with a friend and planning it ourselves.






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